Each month, I offer a mystery yarn club and today I’m excited to reveal the April Clubs. If you are interested in joining the club, you can find them here.
In general, I use a photo as inspiration for the colorway and the rest is a surprise. I offer the clubs in a mystery skein (in any size skeins), with an optional contrast mini, or as a mini skein set. In April, I wanted to bring some bright cheerfulness to the club after the winter months had come to an end. I thought this photo was fun and would provide great inspiration. It did!
I went into this club with a couple of different options in mind. I thought about having a light brown base with sections of the bright colors, similar to how there are separate donuts. I also thought about just using all of the colors I saw and making it a fun, variegated skein. This is what I ended going with. In general, for colorways in my shop, I love blending colors vs using high contrast color blocks. I wanted there to be some speckles to represent the sprinkles, but I also want to make sure I didn’t cover up the bright colors and make it too uniform.
Here’s the result of the main colorway and the contrast skein:
I brought in a lot of the bright pink, deeper pink, purple bright blue, teal and speckled some of those sprinkles on top. I did keep the base a bit lighter, like the donuts themselves, but brought in lots of colors too. When I moved onto the contrast skein, I was torn between the donut color and one of the brighter colors. You can see I chose the brighter one and I have zero regrets about it. I felt like the photo was just so bright and cheery and not making both skeins have that feel would not have worked as well.
Here are some swatches with both colors:
For those of you who love the mini skein sets, I had a lot of fun going bright on these as well. As the standard approach for my mini skein sets, I brought in one element from the main skein into each mini and then tied them all together with some common themes. Here is the mini skein set:
Club colorways are unavailable in the shop for at least three months after the club shipments. Some may never come back. If you are interested in buying the colorways, the best chance is through the clubs. They renew each month on the 20th and there are a variety of options. You can be in an ongoing subscription that you can cancel anytime. If you choose the 3 month or 6 month club options, you do save money over being in the ongoing club for that duration.
Here’s a picture of the May clubs! A picture from my own collection:
If you ever have any questions, feel free to email me or use the contact me page here on my website.
Hello crafty world! Today, I’ll be talking all about my yarn stash. Yup – airing the yarn out, spring cleaning, joyful testing and all that stuff we just don’t talk about. I actually do not live with any yarn stash shame – Yarn Dyer! Hi! but I do understand that not everyone likes to talk about it and do what makes you happy.
For me, I’m such a functional person that I rarely buy or have something that doesn’t have a purpose. I don’t know if it ties in with my mathematical brain or just a separate personality trait. I have a hard time being emotional towards inanimate objects and rarely have sentimental feelings towards objects. Maybe because I’m not a parent. I feel like that kind of thing often revolves around people’s children and memories of them growing up. In any case, I love getting rid of things. What feels better than dropping things off at Goodwill or selling something for a bit of cash?
It’s the time of year when I would normally go through my closet and donate whatever clothes I hadn’t worn over the winter. I do the same thing in the fall with the summer clothes. I know I’m not alone. I’m not a big shopper but a refresh and seeing what’s left is always nice. I figure, why not do the same with my yarn? So, last weekend, I did my first annual (probably) airing of the yarn stash and setting the yarn I no longer want aside for a charitable donation.
For the most part, it was yarn leftovers and primarily worsted weight leftovers. For sock yarn scraps, I do still intend to work these up into various projects. I’ll be talking more about that over time, but for now, I’ll just say that if I don’t start making more progress on that soon, I will rethink my ability and willingness to do so.
My stash overtook 3 boxes that I have in my craft room. They aren’t large boxes, they are a small box that actually is meant to be used as a filing cabinet system if that puts it into perspective. It’s probably the size that fits legal paper one way and standard paper the other.
One bin had all fingering weight yarn in it. I didn’t end up donating much of this because I do hope to work up some projects. I’m actually wondering if anyone wants to do a charity make a long or even a charity focused livestream (or both!). Let me know in the comments or by messaging me on Instagram @agirlandherwool if you are interested!
The rest of my yarn is a lot of older yarn that has just been sitting around for a while. I figure if I haven’t used it now, why should I think I’m going to start. Buying new yarn is just the best, isn’t it, and I’d rather just buy the perfect yarn for a project than make something work. I guess that leads into two thoughts. One, I don’t mean to sound like I just willy nilly buy yarn and then years later donate it all away. I’m actually quite the opposite. Instead, I rarely buy yarn and research exactly what I want for the project. That’s why I’m in the situation I’m in. The other thought is that the yarn I’m looking to part with is all leftovers. There are a few skeins that are untouched because I bought an extra skein to make sure I had enough. Nothing that I’m getting rid of did I buy, never use, and now I’m wanting to just part with it. I don’t why I felt the need to justify, but I think we all have lots of leftovers and that’s what I’m here focusing on.
My thoughts as I sorted was to try to be realistic. How much crafting time do I really have and when I have time to work, what am I drawn to? I only will be able to make so many charity items and I personally prefer to work with the fingering weight yarn I have. This means that even though I may not get to all of those skeins, I know for certain, I won’t get to the worsted weight skeins. So those went to the donation pile.
After going through everything, I had 3 empty bins. I decided I wanted one bin for my stash and the other two to be for my business. I started to fill up my one bin and decided once it was full, that was it. If I wanted more yarn, I need to finish up some that was in there. I think this will be a good policy and allow me to really decide what is worth having. I have quite a bit of yarn that I plan to donate, hopefully to a school, but otherwise to an organization that wants it. Again, it’s a lot of partial skeins so it’s not really worth trying to destash. Plus it’s been around for a while.
Here’s what I kept: 1. Sock yarn – I didn’t have much of it honestly and I like the 4 or 5 skeins I had. 2. Sock yarn leftovers – for charity items. I do plan to reassess this at the end of the summer. If I haven’t used them in the less busy time of the year, then it’s time to re-evaluate what I want to keep and what I want to donate. 3. Baby yarn – some really soft, good for kids yarn that I use for gifts. I was torn about this one, but it’s a good thing to have in stash. You really just never know when you’ll want to throw a baby hat in with a gift. 4. Rauma leftovers from my Altheda sweater – I LIVE in this sweater and I just wasn’t ready to part with the leftovers. I think this was one of those ‘what brings me joy’ moments where I thought “this brings me sooo much joy” and so it stayed. 5. My tiny fiber stash – it’s really not much.
Everything else is being donated or turned into charity items. I’m so happy with the results and that I’ve finally gotten rid of yarn I have known for a long time I won’t be using. I’d love to know if you do anything of the sort or what you generally do with leftovers. Do you use everything up to the bitter end? Throw away leftovers? Keep it for a just in case scenario?
It’ll be interesting to come back to this and see how much I’m using and how this continues over time. I’ll plan to keep you updated.
If you want to see anything “in person,” you can watch the vlog here:
It’s now April, which means we are one quarter of the way through the year. It also means Spring is coming, winter is ending and there’s a lot to look forward to. Before moving onto the months ahead, I’m spending some time reflecting backwards. In doing so, I’ll be setting myself up for what’s to come and how to stay on top of it.
I will be organizing this post to match my 2021 goals post from late last year (early this year?) and go through where I am at with my goals.
Heading into 2021, I really had no goals set for knitting. I knew that my year would be different than most and why bother planning for it. The two goals I set for this year was to work on an advent pattern using my 2020 kit and work on my charity items.
2020 Advent kit – still not touched. I did start on it late last year, but I haven’t worked on it since. I am currently working on the Ambah MKAL and my goal is to pick up the advent pattern once this is done. Charity – have not worked on charity items, but it is on my list for April to re-organize and process. I’ll be doing a vlog and post here on it in May, so stay tuned for that!
Otherwise, my knitting has picked up a lot in 2021. A lot of that has to do with my business being a little slower right now and for a few other reasons that we will get to later in this post. Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far: 1. Slipstravaganza Shawl – finished this marathon of a project earlier this year. It was quite the project in all honesty and deserves to be considered project 1 – 500. It was so worth the effort and the timing for when I finished it was meant to be because I was able to take photos in the snow. 2. Golden Dusk Shawl – I also finished this other mystery knit a long project earlier this year. This was a very beloved project and one that was sad to finish. It came out so beautiful and I’m proud of both the yarn and the finished project. 3. Hannah’s Aurora Sweater – this was the first project of 2021 that was started and finished this year. My niece made a remark about being sad that she had outgrown a sweater I made for her and so she got a new one. She opened it up this past week and was very excited about it.
Current WIPS 1. Vanilla Oink Socks – Just about at the ribbing of sock 2 2. Moduloncho – Just started on this and can’t wait to dive in 3. Caladenia Shawl – Ambah O’Brien MKAL – At the end of clue 4 (of 5).
While this probably doesn’t sound like a lot, to me, this is way more knitting than I could have anticipated. I’m enjoying the process more and excited to keep on working on it.
No, I haven’t spun yet this year, but I do plan on it happening. For quarter 2, I would like to start spinning for a total of 30 minutes per week, broken up however it works out.
This is where a lot of my goals resided for this year. Here are my updates:
Vending – it seems very likely that this will happen this year. But, TBD
Collaborations – this is something that is always on my list and I’m working on. I’d like to work on this more than I have, but these things do take time.
Sample Knitters – this definitely has happened. I’ve been working with a lot of sample knitters so THANK YOU all for your excitement around this. I’ve already received some socks back from sample knitters that I can use to show how colorways knit up. I am also waiting on a few non-sock projects to come back to me that I’m excited to share with you all. I plan to continue setting up projects, but there are a few things I learned in this first round that I will be working on moving forward.
Rainbow Club – is live! You can sign up for the rainbow club now through April 10th. If you haven’t already signed up for the limited edition club, please do so!
Pattern based kits – I’ve started adding these to the shop and there are more coming soon. Pattern based kits include: Hakea Hat and Emelyn Mae Shawl kits. To make it a pattern based kit, the amount of yarn you receive for the project is just the right amount you need for it. It’s a more cost effective way to shop for yarn and make beautiful projects with hand dyed yarn. I will be adding more of these throughout the year.
Staying ahead – I feel like I’ve overall been doing a great job with this. I have had yarn for new colorways dyed up more than one month in advance. I’ve added in new routines to my business that have allowed me to stay ahead and work efficiently:
Day to day – I dye for 2 hours in the morning before work. At lunch, I soak the yarn and hang it up to dry. After work, I prep yarn for the next and package up any orders that are ready to go out. Doing this has allowed me to keep to my 3-5 day turnaround time, mostly at 4 days. Prepping the yarn the night before has been a game changer.
No dyeing on the weekends. I do not dye yarn on the weekends anymore. This has allowed me to have downtime (see all of the knitting I’ve been doing), keep up with chores and have more relaxed family time. It also keeps me on track during the week to make sure by the end of Friday, all (or most) of the current orders are out the door.
Personal dye day. Having one day a week dedicated to non-order dyeing has allowed me to keep adding new colors to the shop. I’ve also been able to stay ahead of dye with me vlogs (this week is an exception).
Computer work/recording on the weekends – Keeping up with recording my vlogs on Sunday morning means that everything is usually all good to go long before the air date. In the past, I’d be rushing around to have everything edited in time and I haven’t had to do that for a while. I also try to do other various computer work on the weekends because it is easy to pick up and put down as I need to (unlike dyeing).
Personal dye day – included this above.
Daily routine – Also covered above. I’m not yet commuting yet and so I haven’t had to worry about working around that.
I mentioned it a bit above, but I have found myself in more of a routine with YouTube. Interestingly, this has caused me to want to change things up. Why? I record my vlogs on Sunday, which has allowed me to stick to my goal of 2 vlogs per week. However, my initial goal for the channel was to have it more vlog style and less sitting in front of the camera. Because of the routine, I take out my recording equipment on Sunday morning and then put it away and don’t record until the following week. Lately, I’ve been keeping my camera out a bit more to capture projects along the way and be less “here’s what happened” and more “here’s what’s happening.”
I have also started livestreaming! I’ve been doing about 1 per month and it’s been a lot of fun. I generally have my WIPs available to show you all but we generally just chat. I do need to schedule my next one so keep an eye out.
I did take a break from the blog for a bit. I thought maybe it just was something I was okay with not doing, but I’ve really thought about how watching YouTube is not accessible for everyone. I want to be able to share my channel and my business with anyone interested in hearing about it and so I’m back. I’ll be blogging 2x per week in conjunction with the vlogs over on YouTube.
One of my words for the year has been growth. There is a lot of growth described above in regards to all of the new offerings I have in my shop. My social media accounts are growing as well, which is all great. As my business grows, I also grow as a business owner. Adapting to that needs of my business has been working well for me with the new routines. I also have learned more about having sample knitters for the shop. It’s been a changing year for sure and I’m happy to grow as a businesswoman with it.
I’ve also grown with an entirely new product as well with my craft journal sticker kits. I have had these in my mind for probably almost a year at this point and finally was able to do something about it. I love these kits and have so much fun with my craft journal. I already love flipping through it and looking back on everything I’ve laid out so far.
With a new year comes new expectations. It’s easy to assume that everything will stay with where it’s at and just keep becoming bigger and greater. Even though we are only 1 quarter of the way in, I’ve had my tests handed to me with the business. Things have slowed down quite a bit and rather rapidly. I think that’s probably the norm for this time of year, but as a newer business, it’s a trend I do not have the data for quite yet (actuary over here…). That being said, every day that I get to do this, I’m very grateful for it. I remind myself that a lot of the downtime I have is because I’ve been able to make my business more efficient and steady. I have the festivals to look forward to, monthly clubs that always seem to come back around and the popular dye with me vlogs to chat with you all about. It’s been a good year so far and I’ll keep working my behind off to keep that going.
I mentioned a few things I want to keep up with throughout this vlog, but I am just mostly excited for that starting fresh mentality. Spring is here and it’s time to rejuvenate and reset. I’m excited for plans that I have for the business but I constantly remind myself to keep working because time really does fly and fall sweater weather will be back around before we know it.
I know I haven’t been posting here much, but I have started monthly shop updates in my shop. They are the first Friday of every month and what do you know? Today is just that!
Shop News The Rainbow Club is now liveand you can purchase it through April 10th. Each month, you will receive a rainbow skein and all three together will fade. It’s a limited edition club and these colorways will never appear back in the shop! Don’t miss them!
If you follow along with the Dye with Me vlogs on YouTube, you probably know that I have a Dye with Me club. This is how you can purchase the skeins we dye up in the vlogs. I do plan to write posts about them as well, so you can follow along here from now on if YouTube isn’t your thing. The Dye with Me clubs are now reopened for the May 1st renewal. By signing up for the club, you will have your membership renewed on May 1st and then receive a skein from April.
I showed the new May sticker kits on Tuesday, which you can check out here.
May is coming, which is my birthday month. Stick around for more news later this month because I will be offering up something special to celebrate!
The spring rainbow gradient is back in the shop. This was a beloved gradient last year and I can’t wait to have it back in the shop. I’ll have a sample to show you soon and so make sure you’re following along to see when I post it. I’ll be sure to post it on Instagram as well. The spring rainbow gradient set is available on sock and DK and of course you pick the size of the skeins.
Each skein is a light, pastel version of a shade in the rainbow with speckles of the same color on it.
Before the Rain is also back in the shop. This is a light gray blue with some slight gray speckling. I love the smell in the air before it rains. When you can sense the rain coming but it hasn’t quite appeared yet. The sky is still blue but those clouds come rolling in. April showers and all that.
Frostbite – quite the name for a Spring color, huh? I know, I know but this was the December club colorway and I couldn’t wait any longer to release it. This was a popular club color and I wanted to make it a regular asap. It’s a light gray and white base. Some of the gray base has a twist of a blue in it as well. There are bits of a loving red (no better way to explain it. Not quite bright red, not too dark either. Just a rosy red) that will speckle throughout the skein. It’s paired with a perfect tonal deep red.
Lovebite – the perfect tonal pairing for Frostbite. This was the contrast skein for the December club and I just love it on its own. It’s a deep tonal red with bits of a dark blue to just blend it into a lovely textured tonal. Available on its own or as part of a two skein set where you choose the size of the skeins. I also will have this as a secondary option for the Emelyn Mae shawl kit.
Meadow – this is a colorway that I’ve had in my head for a while and I”m excited to bring it to the shop. It’s a lot of pastel colors but more flowers in a meadow than little girls bedroom. This will match a lot of colors in your stash or even ones in my shop. Let me know if you want pairings and I can help you out. This will make a great colorway for a multi colored project where you need a light tone, but you don’t want a neutral.
Sweet Tooth – a new 5 skein mini skein set that I’m through the roof excited to share. I had a dye with me series over on YouTube where we used a cake photo for inspiration. In one of the vlogs, I dyed up a mini skein set and fell in love with it. It was so springy and speckly and delicious. I had no formulas written down for it so I’ve now formulated it and made it into a regular colorway. Available in any size skeins.
That’s it! Make sure you check out the colors I’ve been featuring in the shop as well.
Leaving the shop at the end of this month is: Cayenne Pepper Smoked Paprika Sea Salt Purple Basil Galentine’s Day – colorway and gradient set
Don’t forget to check out the Caladenia Shawl kits. The MKAL started today! Check out my instagram for photos of my completed clue 1.
Here’s a link to the shop. This will take you to the new items, but you can navigate to see all items.
Well hello there world. It’s been a while since I posted on the blog, but I’m more than happy to be back in action. I’ll be catching you up in some crafty goodness.
In general, I plan for this blog to mirror my YouTube channel to provide those who can’t or don’t want to watch vlogs to read about the same information. Feel free to follow me in either place, or both, but it should be the same information.
Today, I’m going to do a monthly catch up on all things crafty. I also want to introduce the blog to my craft journal, as I started one this year and have been enjoying tracking it.
Did I finish anything in March…? Hmm… yes, yes I did! I finished the Eostre Children Cardigan that I knit for my niece Hannah. I will link to the vlog here and unfortunately, I don’t have a blog post about it. Let me know if you want to see one!
I knit up this sweater for my niece because she asked for it. I knit up two sweaters for two of my nieces, my brother’s daughters, when they were 5 and 3. Now, the 5 year old is turning 8 and expressed how she was sad she had grown out of that sweater. Too polite to ask for a new one, she never did! Well, now that she mentioned that, it was time to make another one. I picked out a simple cardigan with lace sleeves that I knew she would love. I knit it out of my yarn, agirlandherwool, in the Aurora colorway. She has seen photos of it in progress but not the finished sweater. Her birthday is soon and she’ll be receiving it in honor of that! I can’t wait.
That’s it. No other finished objects to speak of, but I’m very proud of that one.
Works in Progress (WIPs)
A list of the current WIPs as of the end of March: 1. Vanilla Oink Pigment socks – vanilla socks that I mostly work on while I’m dyeing yarn 2. Caladenia Shawl – Ambah O’Brien MKAL – mostly monogamously working on this one. I do have kits in the shop and I’m using the Spring kit. All other spoilers will come when the MKAL starts on April 1st! This Friday! 3. Moduloncho – Just started on this one this past weekend. Lots of squishy garter stitch, which I’m super excited about. More details will come on this one soon too.
The Rainbow club is now live in my shop. Once a month, you will receive a rainbow themed colorway. The three colors will form a fade. The clubs are available until April 10th and then these colors will never be for sale in the shop.
The craft journal sticker kits are up in the shop. I will do a separate post on these, but I’ve been using a craft journal as a way to track my projects in a memorable and keepsake way. I love flipping through it and putting pen to paper and writing some of my favorite things about my project.
I say this often, but I don’t consider myself a creative person. I understand the irony in all of this, but I’m not someone who can draw or write nicely and I couldn’t come up with a pretty craft journal without the addition of these stickers. They make the pages vibrant and fun and all I need to do is write down the facts, a few memories and it is good to go. I can change how I use them page by page and I’m not stuck using a format the same way all of the time. The options are endless and I hope to continue bringing more stickers to the shop to allow for you to feel the same way.
Today, I launched the May sticker kits. Here are some of the images below! I hope you check them out and enjoy!
That’s all the crafty news for today. I am excited to be back here on the blog and back with my needles. Feel free to reach out with any questions and I’ll be back on Friday with another post. We’ll be having a shop update with yarn and I’m excited to bring more spring to the shop.
I recently finished my Golden Dusk MKAL shawl, which is my first FO in a long time!
The usual details first: Pattern: Golden Dusk MKAL / Tamy Gore Yarn: agirlandherwool / Silk DK / 4 Spices Collection Needle: Size 6 Cast on: 10/19/2020 Cast off: 1/17/2021 The pattern page on Ravelry can be found here.
I have a finished object! I have a finished object!!
This is so exciting. I feel like I haven’t shared crafty progress in way too long, so thank you for your patience. I will say this project could have been done much sooner, but I’ll get into that in a bit.
I’ve always loved Tamy Gore’s designs and the Ashbrook shawl is one of my favorite makes. I knew going into this mystery knit along (MKAL) that I would love the end result of the project. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what an MKAL is, you basically work on the project without knowing what the end result is. The designer will release the pattern in separate clues, usually a week or two apart, and you just knit along in your blinded bliss. In some cases, it probably always work out well for everyone, but if you pick a designer you like, then I’m sure you’ll like the finished project.
This was definitely my mentality going into this project. I knew going into it that it would be a straightforward pattern and I would love the end result. I was not disappointed. It turned out to be just that. The pattern it close to stitch sampler in some ways and it really feels that way as you work on it. You move quickly from garter to garter stripes to brioche, add some lace, mosaic knitting, short rows. Basically if you can think of it, this pattern has it. It only has it for a few rows at a time though. #PotatoChipKnitting to a T.
In the end it’s a large shawl, it does use 4 colors after all. The way that it is designed though, it doesn’t feel that large. I think some of that has to do with the squishiness that is garter along with it being a heavier weight yarn. Instead of being wider, it’s thicker. For me, it’s totally wearable and I plan to wear it. Lots.
The yarn is my hand dyed yarn, agirlandherwool in the silk DK base. It’s a 50% SW Merino / 50% Silk DK base and it is really lovely yarn. It’s shimmering and soft and I’d line my bed in it if I could. The base makes the colors just brighten up and shine and it just makes the shawl that much nicer.
I do have kits for the shawl in my shop, but it is on my regular DK base (SW Merino/Nylon blend). I’m not currently offering the silk DK base, mostly because I think you need to see it in person to appreciate it. As of now, I’m planning on it being a festival only base, but if you are interested, definitely let me know.
Overall, A+, a perfect start to the crafty year. Have you knit a Tamy Gore design? I’d love to know!
I’m using the term “What I Wish I Knew” lightly as some were things I knew but maybe didn’t prioritize it as much as I am now.
Social Media I don’t know if I knew back then just how big social media was. I’m not involved in social media in my personal life and so I never really took note of how much everyone used it. It’s just never really been my thing. I didn’t use Instagram much before having a business and I rarely post of Facebook. I have learned just how valuable social media is. It’s how businesses market these days.
The thing that I also didn’t think too much about it how people like to invest in the person behind the business as well. This means putting myself, Lauren, out there in addition to everything agirlandherwool has to offer. It’s new to me, but I’ve been doing a lot of things I never expected myself able to do. It’s definitely something I will always be working on, but I am proud of how much I put myself out there for my business. I’m appreciative to everyone I’ve been talking to over the internet!
I knew having a YouTube channel would also help me put myself out there more. I held off on starting one for a while because again, it’s way out of my comfort zone. It’s only gotten easier though and I do think it’s something that is vital to a small business. I feel like I’m able to open up more than just through text and start to be more comfortable with my personality. I edit my vlogs less than I used to and just let myself show. Embarrassing or not.
Collaborations/Networking It’s possible to grow a business all by yourself, but it certainly helps to network. When I started my business, it was a hobby and I wasn’t necessarily concerned with the growth. Sure, I wanted people to buy my yarn, but I didn’t necessarily want to put in the effort of growing a following (see previous section about my internet insecurities). As I changed my mental state of seeing my business as such instead of as a hobby, I realized that growth happens by networking and collaborating. Without a doubt, this is something that I’m still working on and will continue to work on probably forever. Every time I reach out to someone or put myself out there, it’s a win. I was listening to the Knitmore Girls the other day (I will say I’m way behind. It’s still the summer for them), and they talked about rewarding yourself once something stressful (or moreso daunting/not fun/ hard to do) is complete. It’s such a simple and genius idea and so true.
I set a 2021 goal to keep working on networking and I’ve already started the process. It’s something I haven’t prioritized so far, but it is something that is vital to a small business.
Reinvesting in your business When I first started out, I borrowed from our personal finances to buy the initial materials. I mean, with starting a business, the money has to come from somewhere. While it wasn’t that much money, I had an initial goal of putting the business in the green as soon as possible. This meant that my primary focus was paying us back as soon as possible. When I would estimate how much money I needed to keep for business expenses, I never really accounted for growth. I more paid us the profit instead of planning on expenses growing over time. Amatuer, but that’s the whole point of this blog post.
As I started paying us back much sooner than I probably should have, I had to keep borrowing from us to keep up with the growth. I would essentially break even only to borrow back from us. While it’s not a bad thing to pay off debts before reinvesting in the business, it just made things messy. Looking back on it, I wish I knew that it was ok to hold onto that debt (personally not with a bank) and use the money appropriately to grow.
Buying things that save you time Building off the previous one, I wish I knew that it was okay to spend money to save me time. I think I always told myself (and still tell myself) that it’s not worth spending the money when it’s something I can do myself. Early on, I think that’s reasonable.
I watch other YouTubers who are Etsy/small business shop owners, not yarn dyers, who enjoy talking about their businesses as well. Advice that I often hear is that it’s worth spending money on the points in your business where you have a bottleneck. It’s also worth spending money where it saves you time because it means you can do more for your business. It really started to hit home and I have to say that it really has paid off.
One of my first early purchases to save me time was my electric skein winder. Originally, I was winding by hand, meaning that I wound the yarn off of cones by manually spinning my yarn swift around and around. This was a time killer and a shoulder killer. At the beginning it was manageable, but there’s no way it would be an option anymore. Let me just tell you that when someone ordered 300g of sock yarn, it was a marathon for my arm.
At first, trying to save money, I tried a swift that had a handle on it so I could crank it at waist height instead of winding it up above my shoulder height. However, it didn’t work and I had to return the product. Once that didn’t work out, I found my only and best option was to invest in the skein winder from Crazy Monkey Creations. It really has changed my business and again, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with orders if I were still manually winding skeins by hand.
My dye studio is something we do not acknowledge our appreciation of enough. I no longer have to work around the eating schedule in our kitchen. I can leave things to cool and have it not be in the way. I generally have more space and time to devote to dyeing with it being it its own area. Being able to invest in that dye studio has definitely been a game changer and one that I should celebrate more.
My spin dryer! This one didn’t save me energy, but saves me TIME. This is a huge thing. Yarn that I dye is dry in only a few hours. Minis can be dry in less than an hour. This is a big deal if I need to add a skein last minute to a gradient that didn’t turn out right. It also means I dont have a backlog of yarn drying. I also don’t have massive amounts of wet towels either, which adds more moisture to the air, further slowing down the drying time.
A lot of the items above have been investments in me and my time. Without them, I’d have to have longer processing times and more stress generally. I definitely wish I had known sooner that investing in my business in this way would pay off, even if the direct ROI didn’t seem apparent.
Setting small milestones is fun! When I started my business, I set a few small milestones. It was really fun to think about them and hit them along the way. Even if they aren’t these huge long-term goals, it is fun to celebrate along the way, even if it’s just a $1 celebration.
You’ll always look back and think ‘what was I thinking’ There are so many times when we improve on things that it’s only natural to look back and realize how far we’ve really come. When I first started, experience, time and money were all minimal and so of course things are better now than they were. It’s important to take advantage of the early opportunities to both fail and succeed as well as learn about what works for the business and what doesn’t. I know over the years, I will continue to look back and think “I thought that was a good idea…?” but know that at the time, it was an adventure to go on. A good experience to learn from.
Yarn related A lot of the above has to do strictly with business and I thought it would be fun to also reflect on what I wish I knew, specifically relating to the yarn business.
The first is that people really like to see swatches. I completely understand. I think it’s important as a buyer to know exactly what you are buying and how well it will fit into your crafty project. When I first started out, I knit swatches, but without really interacting with people, I didn’t know of its value. These days, I get requests for it and so I better understand the need for it. It can be really difficult to see what the skein will look like worked up.
Kits work really well for customers who want to know what the yarn can and should be used for. I’ve found kits that I list in my shop, specific to certain patterns, do fairly well. I find the ones based on certain patterns do even better than those generic 2 or 3 skein sets. In general, I’ve been trying to dye up matching tonals for variegated skeins. Even more so, I’m planning to offer up more kits in 2021, so stay tuned!
The last thing goes along with one of my 2021 goals of staying ahead. I hope to be more aware of patterns that are up and coming by designers. One way for me to do this is to volunteer to be a test knitter so I can have a general idea of what’s to come. Often when designers ask for test knitters, they at least say what yarn will be needed, which is helpful for pre-planning kits.
That’ll wrap it up for today, but I plan to discuss more about what’s to come in the future in the next blog post in this series, posting in two weeks. Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a post. You can also check out my YouTube vlog where I can talk more about this topic.
Now that the January clubs have arrived at their homes, I’m here to talk about them and the inspiration behind it.
Starting in January, I offered up the club as a mystery skein, with an optional contrast skein, or as a mini skein set. For both options, I used the same inspirational photo.
My main inspiration in picking this photo is that I love to roast veggies and make soups in the summer. I wanted to find a photo of some root vegetables that reminded me of this. I also like to balance out the colors that I include in the clubs to provide variety and not have similar skeins back to back. I don’t often dye with orange and so I thought it would be fun to add that in there.
That being said, I was really nervous going into this club. These aren’t my typical colors and I was nervous for how it would turn out. I have to say that I do a test skein when deciding on the inspirational photo to make sure I can actually come up with something. I was still nervous though!
In the end, I was really happy with the skein I came up with. I kept it light and more of the neutral colors than the bright orange and green. They were more hints and I toned them down to keep them more in my style.
It’s a really soft light brown base with various neutral colors. It has some speckles of the orange and green, but again, not too much.
For the contrast skein, I decided to go with a light green. Again, to stay within my comfort zone, but to bring in a bit of color. I like that I again kept it light. It might not be the standard moody winter color, but I think it represents root vegetables and the overall feel I was going for.
New this month was a mini skein set based on the same inspirational photo. I picked out various elements of the main color and brought them into their own mini. If you are interested in more details about how I do this, check out an upcoming series I have on my YouTube channel starting in a few weeks. I’ll be talking all about photo inspirations and creating colorways and mini skein sets.
So overall a soft feel, but a really fun mini skein set for the winter months.
You can purchase these colors on for a very limited time – now through the 15th. The colors will be retired for at least 3 months.
February clubs are also available. If you purchase the mystery club between now and the 20th, you’ll be signed up for the February club. Make sure you select the ongoing subscription for the club. You also have various options for the length of the club. Feel free to reach out with any questions!
You can watch more here on YouTube and tune in if you haven’t seen the ongoing coupon code available only at agirlandherwool.com.
Setting goals for 2021 is hard because I really don’t know what this year will look like. There’s a possibility I’m back to commuting to work, traveling on weekends or continuing to stay home. However, I’m setting goals now assuming life is as it currently is and if I need to change them during the year, then that’s what I’ll do! Are you setting 2021 goals or just going with the flow?
Knitting In previous years, I’ve set goals for the number of projects I’d like to complete that year. It’s usually based on what I have planned for the year. This year, I will not be doing that. I have no clue how much knitting time I will have this year and I don’t want any pressure to complete anything at all. I won’t even set goals for knitting x times per week or x minutes a day because I really can’t say anything to it. Right now, I knit about 1x per week and we’ll see how that changes this year.
Of course if I want to knit, I will absolutely allow myself to do so.
I do wish to complete the Radvent throw this year using the 2020 advent calendar. If you’ve been following along, I failed miserably at completing an advent pattern this year. So I’m trying again!
I also want to up my charity game this year and continue to use scraps in my stash towards charity items.
Spinning Ha! If I’m not setting any knitting goals, I certainly will not set any spinning ones either. Last year, I wanted to hit my goal of 3x per week and maybe increase it. This year, I just have the goal of spinning the Loop batt I purchased at Rhinebeck in 2019. I have not yet started it.
Business My business, agirlandherwool, is definitely where I have the most goals as it is what I’m most actively working on these days. While I do have metrics for a lot of these, I’m going to keep them pretty general. My goals are the following:
Vend at festivals if it is allowed and they are safe. Technically, this is just a waiting game as I have already signed up to vend at two of them. This can change. It’s not really a goal as it won’t be up to me if it is achieved, but I think when I look back on 2021 and if I had vended, I’d like to mark that off as a big win and step for my business.
Have more collaborations with other makers. Any designers out there who want to collaborate, let me know! This also includes sponsorships, working with other crafters or really anyone! I’d like to keep working with others in the community.
I want to start looking into having sample knitters for my shop. I need to research how this will work logistically and legally, but if you are interested in knitting samples for me out of my yarn, feel free to contact me.
I plan to offer limited series clubs on the quarters. The 2nd quarter club will be a rainbow themed club.
I want to offer more pattern based kits in my shop. I love setting these up, especially in alignment with my shop’s any size skein theme. Kits always seem to do well and I’d love to offer more. If you have some favorite patterns either new or old that you would love to see kits for, definitely let me know. I try to find ones that use lots of colors, but I’m open to anything!
One main goal is to be more ahead. I always feel one step behind and like I can’t always release products as I want to. This year, I didn’t offer up holiday yarn because I didn’t have my act together in time. I’ve already started pre-planning colors for spring and so I think this will start to work out better. I’m actually a few Dye with Me vlogs ahead right now and will be dyeing new February colorways starting next week.
In conjunction with 6, I plan to have one personal dye day per week. This means that one day per week, I will not dye orders. As a dye to order shop, it’s easy to just keep up with orders. The downside is it doesn’t leave you time to dye up anything new. By setting aside one day a week, I’ll be able to stay ahead and continue to offer more in my shop.
I’m currently working with a really great routine that has allowed for more efficiencies in my shop without as much burn out. Essentially, I’m doing a little dyeing, a little yarn prep and a little packaging each day. This is opposed to long dye sessions on the weekends, late at night and then entire days devoted to packaging or late nights of prepping yarn. Overall, it’s been working out better and I’ve been consistent in getting orders out within 3-4 business days without feeling behind or stressed. This routine will have to change once my commute is added back in, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.
YouTube Once again, I have metrics I would like to meet throughout this year (please subscribe!) but here are some general goals.
Stick to my current 2x per week schedule. Consistency has been really great for having more interactions with viewers on my channel. I also may add in random content if I want to and feel like I have more to say!
I would like to go into more livestreams this year. I’m not sure if they will be live dyeing as I prefer to keep my mask on while dyeing, but it’s something I may try out. I also would do live “package orders with me” where we could chat, answer questions and craft! I’m thinking of setting a goal of 1x per quarter for now.
Blog Consistency with my blog is certainly something I struggle with. It’s often the first to go. I think in order to consistently post, I’m going to aim for 2x per week (vs 3) and keep them aligned with my vlogs on YouTube. I haven’t been knitting and so I do have knitting progress weekly, I’ll go back to posting that on Wednesdays, but for now, the topics of my YouTube vlogs are good!
Theme My overall theme for this year will be growth and contentment. Those might sound opposing, but I truly do wish to grow my business this year and also remain content with where I’m at in the moment. It’s okay if I’m not a huge well known dyer, but I can certainly work towards growth. I want to be content with the products I do put out and not worry about the things I wish to do but just simply don’t have time for. I can’t wait to become more comfortable with the day to day of owning this business so that I can continue to bring more to the crafting community.
You can see me chat about my 2021 goals on Youtube here…
Now that vlogmas is over, I’m back to my business series about how I started up my yarn business and where I currently am with it. I have a few more posts that I will be adding to this series over the next few weeks and then I plan to revisit it over the years. The idea is to see how I grow and change with my business over time. I also think it will be fun to look back at the things that are at the forefront of my mind today and see where it stands in the future.
For a while, I was intrigued by how dyeing worked. Like many people now ask me, I wondered how the colors were speckled or stay separated from each other. I’m the type of learner that has to do something to learn it, either write it down, work out the problem or get my hands dirty, which was the case here. I decided to try it out and see for myself.
I wound up the skeins of yarn into little minis and just went for it. I tried solids and then mixed some colors that I thought would look nice together. I tried mixing, speckling and just doing whatever to the yarns to see what happened. I used the little pans and minis on my stovetop and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I really didn’t know I what I was doing, first of all and I didn’t have too many dyes. I really just kept using them in new combinations to see what would happen. A lot of those early skeins ended up in my Northeasterly blanket, which I’m still working on today.
After researching owning a business, Etsy and suppliers, I took the plunge and went for it! In the early days, I tried to keep the costs of my business at a minimum and it showed. I used the same materials that I still use today, I didn’t wimp out there. However, I would dye up my colorways on minis and photograph those… on my driveway. Some of the originals in the photo on the left (my original shop), were taken on my in-laws deck, as I opened up the shop while I was there. The ones with the white background were on my driveway with a piece of computer paper behind it. So high tech… so lame. The photo on the right was one of my first kits, also photographed on my driveway.
I actually don’t mind the driveway look in all honesty. It’s a plain background and you don’t see shadows. The issue for me was the light needed to be perfect. My house faces east and as soon as the sun came up, it would wash out the colors. I needed the sun to not quite be up over the house across the street. This meant that given the time of year, I needed to take photos on the weekends. I was out of the house during the week before the sun was up. If it was a rainy weekend, forget it. It didn’t happen. Still, it worked and was a decent way to start.
I knew it was deceptive though and people would think I only sold minis. I knew that if I wanted to sell skeins, I needed to photograph them on 100g skeins. This is a double edged sword. I actually think I’m hurt now by showing 100g skeins where people can actually buy minis too. However, more people look for the 100g skeins so I’m better off showing them that way.
I was slow to dye up my colorways on 100g skeins because that takes stock and early on, I had no clue how to predict who would like which colors. Early on, it’s hard to trust yourself and know that if you love something, someone out there will too. It’s also difficult when you don’t have a following who actively look up what you are dyeing.
Eventually, I did and I think it helped the shop. That’ll be for another post…